Feature: Europe’s most unusual hotels

Tuesday, 5 July 2011 11:50 AM

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in an igloo? Or how about a 1970s jumbo jet? All this and more is now very possible due to a growing number of unusual hotels opening up all over the world. From treehouses to caves, from 16th century mines to medieval ale houses; we’ve found some of the most unique European hotels imaginable for your short break on the continent.

Sala Silvermine, Sweden
Located 155 metres below ground is Sala Silvermine, one of the world’s best preserved mine settings. Thought to date from the Middle Ages, this is a world of dark winding hallways, vast caverns and green lakes deep beneath the earth’s surface. And while a hostel is situated at ground level, for a truly atmospheric stay why not book a night in the oval shaped cavern 155 metres below?! You’ll be toured around the caves and given a dinner of cheese and biscuits plus a breakfast in the morning. Just make sure you pack warm clothes because it can get quite chilly...

Jailhotel Lowengraben, Switzerland
Since 1862 prisoners have been trying to esc ape from the brown walls of Lucerne’s jail, but now they are flocking to try and stay here instead! Since 1998 this unusual building has been used as a hotel in Switzerland’s picturesque city. The simple rooms are former cells, decorated sparsely and simply to recreate prison life. But there are more expensive rooms which boast prison art and even a few ghosts - allegedly!

La Balade des Gnomes, Belgium
Set in the Belgian countryside up a pleasant country lane is the unique La Balade des Gnomes hotel. Originally opened as an organic restaurant, the architect has since created 10 fairytale inspired rooms in imaginative settings. Mostly made of wood, the rooms feature all sorts of props like pirate wheels, four poster beds covered in ivy, and clay baths! All of the rooms are shaped differently and one is even set in the belly of a huge wooden cow!

Jumbo Stay, Sweden
Businessmen, families and aviation enthusiasts alike will love Jumbo Stay in Uppsala. Just 25 miles from Arlanda Airport, this 1976 Jumbo Jet has been converted into a hostel! With 27 rooms and 75 beds you will be sure of a memorable night near Sweden’s fourth largest city. You can choose between a dorm bed or en-suite room, but if you really feel like splashing out, book a night in the luxury suite in the converted cockpit for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape!

Esbelli Evi, Turkey
Turkey’s Cappadocia is a unique world of natural fairy chimneys and rock cut temples in a mountainous area of land right out of the imagination. A UNESCO world heritage site, the 250 mile wide former volcanic area is peppered with incredible geological structures and unique architecture. Blending into this seamlessly is the Esbelli Evi cave inn, nested atop hills overlooking the spectacular region. Clefts in the rock replace doors while natural staircases get you to other levels. And those famous fairy chimneys? Well they are now used as real chimneys with smoke pouring out the top.

Stredoveky Hotel Detenice, Czech Republic
Head back to Medieval Europe for a fantastic stay in the authentic Stredoveky Hotel Detenice. All rooms are furnished with wooden floors, toilets and beds, rustic furniture and woollen decoration. All rooms are also candlelit! You’ll feast in a banquet hall where all food is cooked over an open fire. Server girls pour freshly brewed beer and jugglers and bards entertain you throughout the night. This magical place for all ages offers a very authentic medieval feel. Just listen to this: there are no showers, you wash with a bucket and hot water!

Schneedorf Igloo Village, Austria
For a very unique experience, the Schneedorf Igloo Village is a hotel made of snow 2000m above sea level. With 18 igloos dotting the landscape, this is a winter holidaymaker’s dream as the resort offers a whole range of sporting activities, from skiing to snowshoe hiking. But there’s also a mountain sauna made out of Zirbenwood for those who want a relaxing time. The interiors are decorated with soft lights, sheepskin rugs and warm expedition sleeping bags.

Castle Cottage Treehouse, England
Built into a chestnut tree on the edge of West Sussex woodland and situated in the grounds of a gothic mansion is the Castle Cottage Treehouse. Sat over an algae strewn pond, a large staircase leads up to the wooden treehouse, which hosts a thatched room with a double bed set between branches. Large windows offer panoramic views through the treetops and a large balcony is great for taking in the summer air. The house comes with an en-suite bathroom.

These hotels offer a fantastic weekend away in some of the most unique surroundings imaginable. Join us next week for more unusual stays in Europe.

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